Nordic CEOs’ view of raised climate ambitions in the Nordic countries

40 Nordic CEOs are very concerned about climate change and urge policy makers to speed up solutions for climate mitigation

An interview study among leading businesses in the Nordics on raised climate ambitions shows that Nordic business leaders are concerned about climate change and its consequences and expressed the need to ramp up climate actions. All of the CEOs regarded climate change as a threat. Nordic companies can play a key role in delivering climate solutions worldwide and help their customers and countries to align with the 1.5°C target.

The 40 interviewed business leaders represent companies with approximately 1.2 million employees across the globe. The aggregated revenue of the companies is around EUR 326 billion, corresponding to approximately 24 per cent of the GDP of the Nordic region.

Nordic business leaders are not opponents to policy makers, they are, on the contrary, asking policy makers for collaboration and strong incentives, especially in developing and commercialising climate solutions faster. The Nordic business leaders are clear about which incentives they want to see, such as carbon pricing, higher climate requirements in public procurement, and standardized methodology on companies’ climate reporting. The majority of business leaders interviewed preferred carbon pricing, either in the form of carbon tax or emission trading schemes, as an instrument for decarbonization.

Climate transformation spurs Nordic competitiveness on the global market while developing inclusive, welfare societies – and by joining forces with business and national governments, the Nordic region can become the most sustainable region in the world.

“Act not talk” is the key message from the Nordic business leaders to other CEOs. Collaboration with other companies is vital to the success of decarbonisation. There is a need for companies to discuss value chain cooperation, partnerships and to collaborate to push policy for higher climate ambitions.

On a high-level webinar on the 11th of January, the report was presented, and ministers and CEOs gave the following comments:

Nordic Council of Ministers

-This report clearly shows that public and private cooperation and partnerships must be an integral part of achieving our vision of making the Nordics the most sustainable and integrated region in the world, says Paula Lehtomäki, Secretary General, of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Nordic ministers

-The Nordic business community is in the lead and well prepared for a world with strong climate measures and higher carbon pricing. It is great to see this report confirms that. I believe a green Nordic business sector is vital to reach our climate goals, says Espen Barth Eide, Minister of Climate and Environment (Norway).  

-It is a top priority of ours to strengthen the green industrial revolution with new jobs and lower emissions. The Nordic countries have the potential to show leadership globally; and I am happy to see that the Nordic businesses are committed to delivering on the 1.5-degree target. I look forward to raising the ambition further in Sweden and the Nordic region in collaboration with businesses, says Annika Strandhäll, Minister of Climate and the Environment (Sweden).

-Nordic companies have demonstrated that they can provide climate solutions for global markets, and I believe that the Nordic countries can and should provide an even stronger lead market for those solutions. I warmly welcome new initiatives and ideas to develop joint Nordic markets for green and sustainable products and services, says Emma Kari, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change (Finland).

-I am pleased that Nordic CEOs share our ambitious targets and – like the Danish Government – feel responsible to act. Two years ago, we set ourselves a very ambitious target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent by 2030, and we have already come a long way. During the last two years, we have presented decisions and policies that ensure reductions corresponding to half of what is needed to meet the 70 per cent target. This has partly been based on a strong collaboration with the private sector through our 14 Climate Partnerships. While we dig deeper into the Danish transition, I’m sure we need to continue the strong dialogue between Governments and the business community to collectively achieve the needed greenhouse gas reductions, says Dan Jørgensen, Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities (Denmark).

-Companies have the drive, dynamism, and know-how that is needed to combat climate change. Public and private actors need to cooperate to achieve a clean energy transition and sustainability, says Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister for the Environment, Energy and Climate (Iceland).

Nordic CEOs

-The science is clear. We must act now to deliver significant progress in solving the climate challenge. A key lever to incentivise the much-needed green transition of our industry would be global regulation such as the introduction of a global market-based GHG price as well as an R&D fund to secure just transition i.e. channeling support to developing countries, says Soren Skou, CEO, A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S (Denmark).

-A feasible path to limit planetary warming to 1.5°C requires developed nations and easy-to-electrify sectors to go below net-zero and do so well before the middle of the century. That is because, try as they might, many developing nations and hard-to-abate sectors will not be able to achieve zero emissions by 2050, said Remi Eriksen, Group President and CEO, DNV (Norway).

-The report clearly shows the commitment of companies to do their fair share of solving the challenge with their footprint, but also focusing on handprint and making the business out of that. Effective price for carbon in Nordics in internationally is important to speed up the positive development, says Hannu Keinänen, President and CEO, Ensto (Finland).

-We do not see the transition to net-zero as a burden but as the opportunity it is. However, we are running out of time, and transforming the heavy industry and value chain of materials takes time. Today, it is not the financial viability that holds back the massive investments needed in renewable electricity production and the transformation of heavy industry and the value chains of materials in the Nordics. The main issue is the permitting process and the time it takes. To succeed, our societies need a whole new focus on time, said Jan Moström, President and CEO, LKAB (Sweden).

Nordic business networks

– Nordic CEOs show leadership. Two-thirds of the responding companies stated that they are aligned with the 1.5°C target, which is ambitious in a global context. Still, they want to see sharper targets and incentives, increased collaboration, and stress that policies should have higher ambition and pace; this is important in urgent times, says Nina Ekelund, Executive Director, Haga Initiative (Sweden).

-This report demonstrates that the Nordic business community supports the vision for the Nordic region to become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world. Now is time to act, says Björn K Haugland, CEO, Skift Business Climate Leaders (Norway).

-The report indicates that Nordic companies, with our climate solutions, can help in decreasing our customers’ carbon footprint worldwide. There is no upper limit for this positive carbon handprint effect and we can use the Nordic home market as a development platform for global climate solutions, says Jouni Keronen, CEO Climate Leadership Coalition (Finland).

The report

This report is performed by the business networks Haga Initiative, CLC, and Skift financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The report will be launched today, the 11th of January 2022. At 11 AM (CET), you can find the report here.

For more information, please contact

Sweden: Nina Ekelund, Executive Director, Haga Initiative, phone: +46735 022464,

mail:

Finland: Jouni Keronen, Chief Executive Officer, Climate Leadership Coalition, phone: +358 50 4534881

mail:

Norway: Bjørn K. Haugland, Chief Executive Officer, Skift Business Climate Leaders, phone: +4797687315

mail:

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